The Grand Union Canal is an impressive construction that cuts its way
through the Midlands from Liverpool, Leicester and Birmingham to London. It is long and slow, but an attractive part
of the landscape that links up a variety of villages, market towns and major cities. It is also in a large part
responsible for the development of these cities. At the south end, it flows into the Thames at Brentford.
Shortly before reaching Brentford, the Paddington Arm diverges and heads north-east
around Southall, Northolt and Greenford to Willesden, Old Oak Common, Ladbroke Grove and eventually Little Venice.
Here, in the depths of Maida Vale, it divides again. The Regent's Canal continues around North London to St Pancras,
the City and eventually Stratford. The Paddington Arm itself continues for barely a mile further into Paddington,
terminating in a crook between the Edgware Road and Praed Street.
This was very much originally all fields and a wood carving of Little Venice in
its early days shows a pleasingly rural location with a wooded hilltop in the distance. The wooded hilltop is still
called Primrose Hill, but is mostly populated with flats. Little Venice is surrounded by expensive Georgian housing.
The wharf at Paddington is dominated by very large modern blocks of flats with estates agents and coffee shops
on the ground floors. To get there, the canal has to make its way past Paddington railway station (the Great
Western Railway's London terminus, serving points generally west).
The scene here continues to evolve. Long awkwardly placed adjacent to but pretty
separate from Paddington GWR, the canal was relatively recently "integrated" into the station complex with its own
handy entrance by the Hammersmith & City platforms (currently 15 and 16). Since the picture was taken, shortly
after Paddington canal wharf had been used for filming a Jason Bourne movie, the scene changed again. The large
concrete edifice which dominates this scene has gone, revealing in all its glory the big glass ship-shaped